After residents are exposed to factors that cause lung cancer, most have a long incubation period of about 20 to 30 years. Some early lung cancer patients may not have obvious or specific symptoms.
Lung cancer symptoms:
1) Local symptoms
Cough, mostly stimulative; blood-streaked sputum; chest oppression and pain, usually mild and undefined. When the cancer invades the pleura and chest wall, pain increases and becomes more localized. Shortness of breath, caused by cancer blocking small bronchi, can result from pneumonia, atelectasis, malignant pleural effusion, and diffuse alveolar lesions.
2) Systemic symptoms
Fever, caused by obstructive pneumonia or cancer toxins; late-stage patients may experience significant cachexia.
3) Extrapulmonary symptoms
Some patients may have bone and joint pain or swelling; ectopic hormone syndrome.
4) External invasion and metastasis symptoms
Malignant pleural effusion; lymph node metastasis and bone, liver, and brain metastasis symptoms; superior vena cava compression syndrome.
• Lung cancer diagnosis
Early diagnosis of lung cancer mainly includes X-ray examination (plain film, chest X-ray, tomography), CT scan, magnetic resonance imaging, exfoliative cytology, fibrobronchoscopy, and pathological diagnosis. X-ray chest films, CT scans, and magnetic resonance imaging can display the location, size, nature, and relationship with surrounding organs of pulmonary tumors relatively well. Exfoliative cytology requires repeated examinations, and finding exfoliated cells in sputum and pleural fluid helps to identify the tumor. In some early-stage lung cancer patients, cancer cells are found in sputum, but X-ray films cannot determine the location, which is called occult lung cancer. Fibrobronchoscopy can assess lesions, brush cells or take biopsy specimens for pathological examination. The definitive diagnosis of lung cancer often relies on pathological and cytological diagnosis.
Is it lung cancer? If it is cancer, it belongs to adenocarcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma, small cell cancer or non-small cell cancer, high-differentiated cancer or low-differentiated cancer, which information is provided by pathological diagnosis. Doctors analyze these data to decide on the treatment method and how to use comprehensive treatment plan. Medical researchers pay great attention to the histopathology and cytopathology diagnosis of lung cancer, as well as the clinical staging before treatment, which is necessary for formulating scientific and reasonable treatment plans. Currently, the ways to obtain biopsy specimens for pathological diagnosis include sputum cytology, fibrobronchoscopy, percutaneous puncture lung biopsy, video-assisted mediastinoscopy, and video-assisted thoracoscopy. These are new technologies for lung cancer pathology diagnosis developed in recent years.